Better graduation pictures

Having the ability to roam about freely makes getting pictures a lot easier. But you should not park yourself in one spot because you will be blocking someone view.

In a few months, it will be graduation season here in the US.

No doubt, some of you will be attending either as a graduate or a spectator.

In any case, I hope you’ll find these tips useful.


Having access to the graduates is key.

By access I mean ability to move freely and unhindered throughout the venue. Here’s why.

With access you can:

  • Isolate your subject by getting in close especially if you don’t own a long lens
  • Get a better angles. This means looking in the viewfinder and walking around, finding better vantage points to remove clutter
  • Anticipate. Pick out boisterous individuals and be ready for their reactions especially when their names are announced over the public address system

No Access?

If you’re among the throngs without carte blanche to move freely, what can you do?

Ask someone to save you a seat, especially if you’re planning to be a spectator for part of the time.

This is just in case you plan to get some shots of your graduate as they file into the venue.

Most venues will allow parents to get closer before the ceremony proper begins.

So I would wait near where the graduates enter.

That way, even if you don’t have a long lens, they will file past you and you’ll be able to grab some shots of them.

Watch for the reaction of your graduate as they enter. The odds are those graduates with large numbers of family and friends in attendance will have the best expressions when they hear their names called out by a boisterous group, so be ready.

After I get that picture, I’ll head to my seat.

After the ceremony, there’s still plenty of pictures to be taken.

There will be plenty of hugging and kissing.

Picture all your images on a printed page

Be on the lookout for moments even after the ceremony is over.

Needless to say, when you document your graduate’s special day, you will be looking for multiple images.

As you make pictures, visualizing your best pictures on a printed page can be very useful.

When you “see” your pictures on one page, you can weed out what is repetitive or redundant.

You can also see what sort of images you might need to look for to make it more interesting especially if you plan to make one of those photo books as a keep sake.

Don’t forget to shoot lots of details.

Details or close-ups can be anything like flowers or the cover of the program, greetings cards.

If the graduate’s mortar board has some specially written message like “Thanks Mom and Dad,” that would be very important to include.

There’s no reason to be content with just single pictures that appear unrelated.

With today’s photo-finishers all offering photo books, you can all make your own photo books with minimal effort and knowhow.

You just have to think slightly differently as you shoot.